Panerai began making watches in Florence, Italy back in 1860, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the firm produced its first wristwatch. By then its roots in Florence were as deep as those in Switzerland, where Panerai watches were produced.

The breakthrough for the company was an order for diving watches from the Italian Navy, for whom Panerai had been creating instruments of various types since the turn of the century. With a war coming on, the navy was keen to outfit its elite corps of frogmen with wristwatches.

Featuring a Rolex movement, the limited-edition Panerai Radiomir (only 300 were made) was designed for use by commandos and torpedo riders—frogmen who rode a slow-moving torpedo toward a target before attaching a timed mine to the underside of a ship and then riding away. The watches had a cushion-shaped case, a screw-down crown to keep water out of the movement, and oiled-leather straps that were long enough to be worn on the outside of a diving suit. Given their limited supply and the tough conditions they were subjected to, these watches are very highly prized by collectors today.

The watch took its name, Radiomir, from the luminous material that Panerai first developed in 1910. Made of zinc sulphide and radium bromide, Radiomir allowed the numbers and hands on a watch to be read in dark conditions. It was replaced in 1949 by Luminor, which glows thanks to the presence of tritium, a less-dangerous compound than radium bromide.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Panerai continued to produce wristwatches for the Italian Navy in regular and destro (left-handed) versions. Some watches from this period were known as Trittico watches, thanks to their trio of features, which included a depth gauge.

Panerai also made Kampfschwimmer watches, some with so-called California dials (numbers on the bottom, Roman numerals on the top), for Germany’s only postwar commando unit. And in 1956, Panerai created a large-face Radiomir watch for the Egyptian Navy.

Panerai might have remained a military diving watch in the minds of the public had it not been for Sylvester Stallone, who, in 1995, purchased a Luminor while on location in Italy. Sales of the watches jumped after its debut in Stallone’s “Daylight,” and Sly even had some watches—dubbed Slytech—made with his signature engraved on the back. These he gave as gifts to friends, including fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Recent News: Panerai Watches

Source: Google News

Laings of Glasgow signs up Officine Panerai, October 17th

Officine Panerai is the latest luxury watch brand to be offered at Laings of Glasgow, going on sale in store and online from November 1. Joe Walsh, Laings of Glasgow managing director, commented: “Panerai is a fantastic brand and will be a great...Read more

Panerai's hidden depths, October 9th

It's also the principle that has made Panerai the phenomenon it has become over the last two decades, Panerai's stock in trade is very limited variations on a templates that were laid down in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's – if you get the chance to...Read more

Panerai PAM 598 Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598) (blog), October 1st

Reporting on the new many new pieces introduced at Watches & Wonders Hong Kong this year, here's your first look at the new Panerai Radiomir 3 Days GMT Oro Rosso (PAM 598). A real beauty, with a 47mm red gold case and Panerai's in-house ...Read more

Panerai Unveils New P.4000 Micro-Rotor Automatic Movement (blog), September 28th

At Watches & Wonders 2014, ongoing now in Hong Kong, Panerai has taken the covers off of its new automatic movement, the P.4000. The P.4000 is noteworthy as it is Panerai's first automatic caliber with a micro-rotor. The new caliber is being introduced...Read more

Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai: Patience and perseverance
Sail World, September 26th

It took quite a lot of patience and perseverance for organisers and crews alike at the Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, but in the end, after a long wait, the breeze made its appearance on the Bay of Cannes. Postponement flags were lowered ...Read more

At the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai nothing is carved in ...
Boxscore, September 25th

Régates Royales: September 25, 2014 - The third day of the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, featured the right alchemy that makes sail racing perfect: good weather conditions, excitement and top level crews. The Classics had their ...Read more

Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai - Mixed bag on day 3
Sail World, September 25th

Day three of the 2014 Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai, featured the right alchemy that makes sail racing perfect: good weather conditions, excitement and top level crews. The Classics had their course set in the area from Cap Roux to Cap ...Read more

Perfect conditions for day two of Regates Royales
My Sailing, September 24th

The second day of the 36th Régates Royales de Cannes – Trophée Panerai was much luckier than the first one. Despite an unusual grey sky, yesterday's strong winds gave way to much more moderate conditions, allowing the Committee to launch a coastal ...Read more